ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Santa Claus is known for his classic red suit, but for some Abilene kids they’ve encountered a Santa Claus in a blue suit. It’s all part of the Abilene Police Department’s Operation Blue Santa. The program takes needy children in kindergarten through third grade who are nominated by a teacher or school counselor to go Christmas shopping at Walmart alongside an APD officer.
Isabella was one of those lucky kids this year. She was able to check off some items from her vacation list like clothes, shoes and of course toys. While scouring the islands alongside APD Detective Marti Woodard, Isabella nabbed toys for herself and her two younger sisters.
“Not only can they choose gifts for themselves, but they also search for gifts for their family members and it’s so fun to watch them light up when they find the gift they want to give their loved one. brother or to their mother,” Woodard shared.
Deanna Reyes, Isabella’s grandmother, said the family were surprised to learn that Isabella had been nominated, but took it as a blessing in disguise.
“Bella’s family is struggling a little – just not too bad – but things are still happening right now for them, but it’s perfect. It was a blessing,” Reyes said.
At the end of the shopping spree, Isabella returned home with a trolley full of items to have a perfect Christmas with her family. Reyes shared that Isabella is known to be a little shy, but she’s happy to have opened up and made a new friend at APD with Detective Woodard.
“It encourages kids to know that the officers are there for the community, not just to protect them, but to help them,” Reyes said.
Isabella’s family is one of more than 450 families who have benefited from Operation Blue Santa. The program, established in 2015, has wrapped more than 5,600 gifts and provided 625 Christmas meals.